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76,897 genres

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    Ugetsu

    I came across this fascinating article on how Neflix categorises its films – it has identified no less than 76,897 sub-genres! It would be a very interesting exercise to see where Kurosawa’s individual films fit into this (incidentally, further down in the article it reveals that Kurosawa is in the top 15 popular directors in Netflix, which I find weird as there are no Kurosawa films in my Netflix account (there may of course be more in the US).

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    Vili Maunula

    Interesting! A decade or so ago there was a lot of talk about “semantic web”, or how everything online would eventually be tagged so that information is easier to find, process and organise. This hasn’t really happened on a large scale (even on this website, content often goes untagged), but Netflix is a good example of a company that profits financially for organising their catalogue, and they have done it quite well.

    As for Kurosawa being in the top 15, unless I’m mistaken (and maybe someone in the US can confirm this?), most of Kurosawa’s films are no longer available digitally on Netflix US, but are available as physical copies. For most of Kurosawa’s films, the digital distribution license in the US is with Hulu, I think. I believe it has something to do with Criterion.

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    lawless

    As someone who relies on Netflix, I can confirm that Netflix has physical copies, but not digital ones, of Akira Kurosawa’s films. The Quiet Duel has been the only one I couldn’t get through Netflix so far. I assumed that the lack of digital availability was due to lack of demand, but I could be wrong. I’ve never checked Hulu because I prefer to watch movies on the TV rather than the computer, which in my case is neither a laptop nor otherwise connected to the TV.

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    Ugetsu

    The funny thing is that I read all that forgetting that in the US Netflix was (maybe still is?) primarily a dvd rental service – we only know it this side of the Atlantic for streaming. I’d forgotten they would have a lot of customer information from pre-streaming days.

    On that point, I’ve often wondered if the change from video/dvd rental to streaming will alter viewing habits. I’ve found I’m a bit more high minded when I go to a dvd rental store, I suppose as the viewing is a few hours ahead I will choose the acclaimed, arty film, while on streaming I’m more inclined to rather impulsively choose something thrashier (as I did last night when I decided to watch Zombieland rather than Red Beard – my excuse was that its shorter!). Perhaps this is one reason why they’ve been slow to put lots of classics on streaming? I assumed that it was licensing issues with the likes of Criterion who have spent so much on restoration, but perhaps there actually isn’t the demand for lesser works on streaming? If so, the ‘long tail theory‘ may be incorrect for films (or at least, high quality restored older films), which would be a bit of a shame. Perhaps only dvd sales can provide an income for companies like Criterion.

    I also wonder how they disentangle viewing habits from shared systems. When I started streaming Netflix it was pretty accurate (usually deciding I liked dark, acclaimed Indy films, which is pretty reasonable). Then my Japanese roommate started using it, and it sent the predictive software haywire, we got all sorts of bizarre recommendations. Mind you, its not as bad as google, judging by the ads it puts on our shared pc I think its convinced my apartment is occupied by a Japanese lesbian with a mountain bike fixation.

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    Vili Maunula

    I dug into it a bit and it was indeed back in 2011 that Criterion decided to switch from Netflix to Hulu. Apparently, more than 800 of Criterion’s films are now on Hulu Plus, including 25 Kurosawa titles.

    All this is of course rather academic for me personally, as there is no sign of Netflix (or Hulu) making it to where I live. There would of course be ways of going around the restrictions and watching and paying for both, but it’s just a tad too complicated at the moment.

    I’m sure viewing habits are influenced by streaming. For one, with streaming, you no longer have to try to impress that cute girl behind the counter at the rental shop with your choices. Also, if it’s based on a monthly fee, it’s easier to justify trying out films you would not really try out if you had to pay for them individually. Or so I assume, based on how my music listening habits have changed since Spotify came along.

    As for shared systems, I would have thought that Netflix could allow for multiple profiles for families under a single account. It’s interesting how difficult it seems for many content providers to offer that feature.

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    Ugetsu

    Thanks for that Vili, I had no idea Criterion were on Hulu Plus. I have Media Hint on my pc so I can access Netflix in the US, I’m told its possible to register on Hulu with it, but I haven’t tried it. I might give it a go.

    I’m sure viewing habits are influenced by streaming. For one, with streaming, you no longer have to try to impress that cute girl behind the counter at the rental shop with your choices. Also, if it’s based on a monthly fee, it’s easier to justify trying out films you would not really try out if you had to pay for them individually. Or so I assume, based on how my music listening habits have changed since Spotify came along.

    I find that interesting, because I think my experience is the opposite! For sure I might find myself trying to impress a video store clerk if she was cute (since my local rental place is run by two particularly surly and pretentious male film nerds I haven’t had to do that), but I find myself choosing difficult or obscure films on the basis that I really should support a shop which keeps a stock like that (my local one is one of only two in my city which does keep a really deep and diverse stock). But on Netflix I just get very lazy and watch series (just finished Breaking Bad) or mainstream stuff. Partly of course this is because Netflix in Europe has a pretty poor selection of non-mainstream or older films, maybe that would change if I had access to something like Hula Plus.

    Netflix does indeed allow for separate accounts, but it doesn’t provide any real reason to go to the trouble of using them, unless you really want their tailored recommendations. I suppose if they had more naughty films, people would use it to hide their viewing habits from room mates and family members, but there are other sites for that!

    Speaking of which, I read somewhere that the sales of thrashier ‘erotic’ literature has apparently rocketed with the spread of electronic reading devices (possibly at the expense of more acclaimed books), presumably because people who read on trains or in cafes no longer feel the need to feel embarrassed if someone sees the cover of their book.

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    Vili Maunula

    Indeed, Media Hint is one of the things I referred to when I said that there are ways to go around restrictions. ­čÖé

    What I meant by trying out things that I wouldn’t otherwise try is actually exactly the outcome that you describe. Since everything is included in my monthly Spotify fee, I listen to far more popular stuff than I otherwise would. And while much of it is something that I stop listening quite quickly, I have made discoveries.

    The best example is that before Spotify, I don’t think that I would have touched a Britney Spears album with a ten foot pole. But since it cost me nothing extra to check out, I gave her music a go, and found out that I actually really like the last few albums. So much so that I was actually really looking forward to this latest one which came out a couple of months ago.

    I too have read somewhere that erotic literature has benefited from the ebook format. In Japan, at least where I lived, people tended to always have custom covers for whatever they were reading in public transport. Annoying, since I couldn’t spy on what was popular.

    But might explain all the tentacle porn.

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    lawless

    Apropos of this discussion, here‘s an interesting article about Netflix that I stumbled across last night. As it points out, Netflix has created original content like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” that is only available online. As for movies, In my (admittedly limited) experience, it’s newer and more mainstream films that are available for streaming, not merely in DVD format. (Limited because most of my Netflix queue consists of foreign or indie films.)

    Ebook readers are great for reading disfavored genres. That includes romance as well as erotica. No embarrassing covers with couples in clinches or (as it’s called in the biz) mantitty.

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    Ugetsu

    @ Lawless

    mantitty

    I never heard that one before, I like it!

    The flip side of e-readers though is that sometimes its nice that people can see the cover of your book, it can lead to interesting conversations among strangers. A friend of mine was working in construction as a summer job while working his way through Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘Second Sex’ on the London Tube. He said he got all sorts of odd looks from people who couldn’t quite reconcile a scruffy dust covered construction guy reading a book like that. And I’ve also found out that reading Haruki Murakami books in Korean and Japanese bars is a great way to chat up cute waitresses ­čÖä

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    Vili Maunula

    House of Cards is interesting and I’m quite looking forward to watching Orange is the New Black as I really liked Jenji Kohan’s previous series, Weeds. Netflix has also revived previously cancelled shows like Arrested Development. Meanwhile, Amazon is developing crowd sourced content through Amazon Studios.

    It’s an interesting emergent way of making shows, as companies like Netflix and Amazon have so much data about people’s viewing habits and what they are searching for, just like the article lawless linked to mentions. And they clearly use that data. House of Cards was actually at times a little uncomfortably statistics driven. Also, filled with product placement.

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